Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah stages dharna over delay in release of drought relief funds by Centre

Siddaramaiah said the protest was aimed at drawing public attention towards the 'injustice' done to Karnataka and its people by the BJP-led government at the Centre.
Last Updated : 23 April 2024, 09:22 IST
Last Updated : 23 April 2024, 09:22 IST

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Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday staged a dharna here protesting against the delay in release of drought relief funds by the Centre and criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah over the issue.

Siddaramaiah said the protest -- held in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue on the premises of Vidhana Soudha which houses the Legislature and State Secretariat -- was aimed at drawing public attention towards the 'injustice' done to Karnataka and its people by the BJP-led government at the Centre.

He alleged that Modi and Shah 'hate Karnataka and its farmers' due to which the drought relief funds were not released even after seven months of severe drought.

The chief minister said the state has not seen such a severe drought in 100 years.

Citing government survey reports, he said 223 out of 240 taluks of the state are drought-affected.

"Modi and Amit Shah hate Karnataka and its farmers,' Siddaramaiah said during the protest organised by the ruling Congress. 'When we asked them to provide us drought relief assistance as per the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) norms, they did not react."

Congress General Secretary in-charge of Karnataka Randeep Singh Surjewala, Ministers Ramalinga Reddy and Krishna Byre Gowda and some Congress MPs and MLAs were among those present.

Several memoranda to the Centre seeking release of grants were 'met with silence' though the state assessed that it required Rs 18,171 crore for drought relief work as per the NDRF norms, he said.

As standing crops on 48,000 hectares were destroyed due to inadequate rains, the state government from its own resources paid Rs 2,000 to each farmer, thereby incurring an expenditure of Rs 650 crore on 34 lakh farmers, Siddaramaiah said.

"With what face are Modi and Shah coming to Karnataka (for Lok Sabha elections campaigning)," the chief minister asked, adding that the party is raising slogans of 'Go back Modi' and 'Go back Shah'.

Siddaramaiah on Monday thanked the Supreme Court for its 'intervention' on the issue of providing drought management funds to Karnataka and termed it a success in his government's fight to secure justice and relief for the people of the state.

The Centre earlier on Monday told the Supreme Court that the Election Commission has given clearance to it to deal with the issue raised by Karnataka regarding financial assistance for drought management.

A bench of Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta was hearing a plea filed by the Karnataka government seeking a direction to the Centre to release financial assistance from the NDRF to the state for drought management.

"The Election Commission has cleared the government to deal with this question. I think it will be done expeditiously," Attorney General R Venkataramani, appearing for the Centre, told the bench.

He told the bench that the matter could be taken up next week.

"This should all be done amicably…we are having a federal structure," the bench observed, while adjourning the matter.

In his reaction, the chief minister said in a post on social media platform X: “Thanks to the intervention of the Hon. Supreme Court, the Central Government, which had delayed providing drought relief funds to the farmers of Karnataka, has agreed to make a decision within this week.”

He added that Karnataka was forced to file a writ petition against the Central government in court seeking drought relief funds, as it had not made a decision on the State's memorandum submitted in September 2023.

“This is a milestone and a success in our long fight to secure justice and relief for the people of Karnataka,” Siddaramaiah said.

Published 23 April 2024, 09:22 IST

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